MIAMI (Reuters) – George Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted in a fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in 2013, was charged with aggravated assault on Saturday after his arrest in connection with a domestic disturbance in Florida.
Zimmerman was arrested by Lake Mary police on Friday night after allegedly throwing a wine bottle in his girlfriend’s direction earlier in the week, his attorney Donald West said.
West appeared at Zimmerman’s side in a Seminole County court Saturday morning. Later Zimmerman was released, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said.
“Mr. Zimmerman denies the accusation,” said West, who was part of the defense team that represented Zimmerman during his trial in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17, during a neighborhood watch patrol in Sanford two years ago. Zimmerman claimed he was acting in self-defense.
The case polarized the American public and drew international attention to Florida's "stand your ground" law, which makes it easier to use lethal force in self-defense by removing the obligation of a shooter to retreat and avoid a confrontation.
The aggravated assault charge is a third-degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine, the lawyer said. An arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 17.
Zimmerman has had several brushes with the law since his 2013 acquittal in the Trayvon Martin shooting.
Police in central Florida arrested him in November 2013 after he allegedly pointed a gun at his girlfriend during an argument. A month later, prosecutors dropped the charges, saying his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, withdrew allegations.
Zimmerman was also stopped for speeding in Texas and Florida.
In June, a Florida judge ruled against a libel lawsuit brought by Zimmerman against NBC Universal, saying the network did not maliciously seek to portray him as a racist when it edited a phone call he made to police before he shot Martin.